Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Whitney Street School principal Cheryl Wadworth with students, from left, Rylan Nicholson, Alex Wood, Alia-Rose Mackel and Celia Spencer.

Students feel the squeeze

Students at a Blenheim school have been feeling the squeeze as overloaded classrooms struggled to cope with demand.

Staff and pupils at Whitney Street School in Blenheim have faced a three year wait for the Ministry of Education to act.

Now education bosses have pledged funds for two new classrooms in the space-stricken school.

Students will no longer have to use the school’s library as a classroom, says Whitney Street School principal Cheryl Wadworth.

“We’ve had to wait and be innovative with the space we have,” she says.

A new building housing two new classrooms is hoped to be completed by the end of the year.

Zoned at the end of 2016, the Eltham Road school caters for pupils living in central Blenheim up to the new Omaka subdivision in the south.

It’s last ERO report in 2017 noted the school was undergoing “significant roll growth.”

But after zoning the 67-year-old school, the Ministry of Education realised there were not enough classrooms to cope.

Cheryl says she doesn’t expect the 366-pupil school roll to increase much more.

“We anticipate we should not be getting any bigger,” she says.

“We want to maintain current numbers.”

Ministry of Education deputy sector enablement and support Katrina Casey says the ministry will monitor roll trends and may consider an enrolment scheme review.

Using other school spaces as classrooms is only ever meant to be a temporary fix.

“Spaces such as libraries, halls and multi-purpose rooms are sometimes used to temporarily accommodate students during building projects, periods of high roll numbers or to allow for flexible teaching arrangements.

“As communities change, so too do the schooling needs of their children and young people,” Katrina says.

“Our job is to manage school infrastructure by planning for growth and population shifts both in the short–term and much further out as well.

“To do this, we consider population projections, local council information enrolment data and how well schools are utilised.

“We regularly monitor the capacity and projected growth of the school network,” she says.

Two additional classrooms were built at the school in 2017 but rezoning put the space under pressure.

“The ministry looks at the roll numbers and prioritise from there” Cheryl says.

“Now, we’re at capacity.”

“We’ll be extremely happy to have the new learning environments.”

Classic car hope for hospice

The Classic Motoring Society of Marlborough is revved up to celebrate the 2020 Marlborough Hospice Vehicle Display.

And while it may not seem so long ago to some, classic Japanese vehicles from three decades ago will make up the main display.

Organiser Pat Pascoe says some of the once popular models are now being forgotten.

“Mitsubishi Sigmas, Mirages, they’re all disappearing now,” he says.

“There’s a lot of stuff that people forget were around.

“Some people are still driving them and don’t realise how old they are.”

The term ‘classic’ is loosely accepted as a car at least 20 to 30 years old.

Nearly 500 vehicles are usually on display at the popular show held annually at Waterlea Racecourse.

Classic boats, heavy vehicles and cars, from vintage to brand new will appear at the display, now in its sixth year.

“It’s a day out – a picnic day – at Waterlea Racecourse under the trees,” Pat says.

He encourages car-fans to bring a picnic lunch and their cameras.

The half-dozen or so organisers have raised more than $30,000 for Marlborough Hospice.

Pat says the show opens to the public, at Waterlea Racecourse, from 11am to 3pm.

“Display people come at 9.30 – although some always come earlier,” he says.

There is no need for registration, just show up on the day.

It costs $5 to display a car and a gold coin donation for spectators at the gate.



Pat Pascoe

We’re trying to gather the old Japanese cars together.

Pre 90’s – it’s 30 years ago.

We’ve had Fords, Jags, now it’s something different.

That’s the theme of the day, but we want all types to attend.

Mitsubishi Sigmas, Mirages, they’re all disappearing now.

There’s a lot of stuff that people forget were around.

Some people still use them and don’t realise how old they are.

They’ll be down the front.

Normally around 450 vehicles.

Classic boats as well and heavy trucks.

Marlborough Car Club support us.

It’s a day out – a picnic day – at Waterlea Racecourse under the trees.

Sixth year.

We’ve raised over $30,000.

It’s a half dozen of us that get together and run it.

Marlborough Car Club at Waterlea Racecourse.

Public invited from 11am to 3pm.

Display people come at 9.30 – although some come earlier.

Just turn up on the day.

$5 per car and a gold coin donation for spectators at the gate.

Holden was the theme last year.

IT’s a real shock to a lot of people, especially dealers.

It’s quite sad really.

You can still bring your Holdens.

Havelock artist Tony Matthews. Photo: Matt Brown.

Truck off trophy

A chance meeting with a wine-loving artist has upped the stakes in an inaugural food truck battle.

The Battle of the Whangamoas, will see Nelson and Marlborough battle it out in a food truck feud.

And the trophy, designed and donated by Havelock artist Tony Matthews, is ready and waiting for the first winner.

“We had gone into the Wine Station months ago now.

We were going for a drink; we were just checking it out on one of our regular trips to Blenheim,” Tony says.

“We got talking about the copper bar in there and I told her I sculpted copper.”

Wine Station manager Michelle Osgood says she asked Tony if he would design a trophy for the inter-regional event.

“I wanted a sphere with a food truck in it.

With a few revisions from Tony, mainly so the trophy would be able to sit on a counter, the sculpture was complete.

A wooden base supports a half sphere made from copper, black tinted glass and on top, a model of a food truck.

Around the bottom shields will display the triumphant mobile kitchen’s name.

“We love it, it’s awesome.”

“We can’t wait to see the competitors’ faces,” Michelle says.

Lifelong artist, Tony turned his hand to sculpting with copper after moving to Havelock 11 years ago.

After moving to the mussel capital, he says he wanted to create something special and unique to the town.

He began making sculptures of mussels out of copper.

The food truck trophy was a good fit.

Entry to the February 29 event will cost $10, with funds raised going to the Blenheim Rotary Club.

Running from 12pm and 7pm, it is hoped the event will appeal to both lunch and dinner time crowds, Michelle says.

“It’s really cool. I’m pretty excited, and I’m overwhelmed at how excited other people are,” Michelle says.

The Liu family on holiday in China are in self-imposed quarantine after returning home. Photo: Supplied.

Coronavirus caution for chippy family

A Blenheim family has placed itself in self-imposed quarantine after returning from China amid coronavirus fears.

Main St Fish and Chips owner Andrew Liu says he took his family to Guangzhou to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Even though the family were forced to stay indoors for most of their visit, they have chosen to take extra precautions to protect the public, just in case.

“Most people were worried about it,” Andrew says of their visit where people are on high alert for the potentially fatal virus.

“We were told to stay home; the whole country is worried about it.”

Andrew, his wife Winnie and their three children, will stay in quarantine for the recommended 14 days.

The family arrived back in New Zealand on 31 January.

New Zealand Immigration has placed temporary entry restrictions into New Zealand on all foreign nationals travelling from mainland China to help stop the virus from spreading.

The restrictions do not apply to New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, residents with valid travel conditions and their immediate family.

Andrew’s popular Main Street takeaway shop, which temporarily closed before they left on holiday, will remain shut until the quarantine period ends.

The couple’s three children will not be attending school.

“No one is feeling sick,” Andrew says.

“It’s because we notice that when we came back, we should have self-imposed quarantine for 14 days.”

All travellers arriving in New Zealand out of mainland China, or any travellers who have had exposure to a confirmed case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) are expected to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the time they leave mainland China or were exposed to novel coronavirus.

A Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) incident management team is on stand-by but not yet active. NMH has a pandemic plan and a health emergency plan in place.

People will not be allowed to smoke at the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival. Photo: Supplied.

Winefest goes smoke free

The popular summer Wine and Food festival is giving fags the flick.

Land-owners Pernod-Ricard has banned smoking at the long-standing event and are asking smokers to leave their cigarettes at home.

And even vapes have come on the chopping block – with the entire site right to the road flagged as smoke free.

Wine Marlborough event coordinator Loren Coffey praised the initiative, saying New Zealand had been heading in this direction for a while.

“None of their [Pernod Ricard] workers can smoke on their site – so it’s fair to extend it to events,” she says.

In recent years, smoking was confined to a designated area. But this year those areas have been canned. “If anyone’s smoking on site they will be politely told to put it out,” Loren says.

The policy, part of Pernod Ricard’s 2020 sustainability plan, was shared with wineries attending the festival at a briefing last Thursday.

Loren says stallholders were supportive of the initiative.

Suzanne O’Docherty with her pet, Sparky the part-Maine Coon cat. Photo: Supplied.

Cat death prompts warning

The owner of a cat thought to have been viciously mauled by a dog wants other pet owners to be on their guard.

Suzanne O’Docherty, from Blenheim, popped out to the supermarket on Wednesday night, leaving her husband, Brian, watching the news.

But when she returned, 45 minutes later, she came back to the lifeless body of her beloved pet part-Maine Coon, Sparky, in their garden.

She is warning other pet owners to be on their guard

“It looked like he had been shaken and had his neck broken,” Suzanne says.

Suzanne says she thinks a dog that has been chased off their property before is responsible.

Husband Brian had already scared off the dog earlier that evening.

She doesn’t want to reveal the breed of the dog, as she believes the fault lies with the owners.

Now, Suzanne, who works at the SPCA opshop, says she’s afraid to adopt another pet, in case it happens again.

“This is the first time in my life that I haven’t had an animal,” she says.

Suzanne says dog control have been excellent, combing the streets for the offending canine.

After moving from a rental near the railway line, Suzanne says she loved the new quiet Redwoodtown neighbourhood.

“We loved this place, we thought Sparky would be safe.

“He was in his own yard; he hadn’t done anything.

“He wasn’t a wanderer.”

Suzanne says she has seen the dog around the neighbourhood several times.

“The dog is innocent,” she says.

“The fault falls on the owners, not the dog.

“The owners have a lot to answer for.

“There have been a few people in Blenheim who have had their pets attacked by dogs.”

The three-year-old tom cat originally belonged to Suzanne’s granddaughter.

“He was the most affectionate, loving animal we’ve ever had.”

“Sparky was a bit too trusting, but I’m worried it might happen again,” she says.

Ivan Miller has walked more than 4000 kilometres around New Zealand so far. Photo: Supplied.

Steps in the right direction

A year ago, Ivan Miller started walking and 4000 kilometres later shows no signs of stopping.

In a bid to raise awareness about mental health, and to raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation, Ivan Miller left his Kerikeri home last February with the goal to traverse New Zealand by foot.

And the mental health advocate returned to Marlborough on Sunday as he completed his circumnavigation of the South Island.
So far, he’s travelled 4063 kilometres.

“It’s a huge adventure,” Ivan says.

“Every day is extraordinary.”

The ups and downs of the winding roads through the countryside reflect the ups and downs Ivan has had through his own life.

His own experience with mental health inspired him to reach out to others.

“Everyone has a story,” Ivan says. “It’s touched everybody.

“I think mental health is something people haven’t talked about enough and it’s made me realise how big the issue is.”

Ivan says he suffered with mental health issues for most of his life, and at 31 while working on a vineyard in Marlborough suffered a mental breakdown.

After a stint at the Mental Health Unit at Nelson Hospital, Ivan credits his recovery to a friend who encouraged him to study the arts at NMIT in Nelson.

In 2018 he was made redundant from the Kerikeri orchard where he works and, with his 50th birthday looking, he opted to take the chance to do “something memorable”.

“It’s definitely been a memorable year,” he says.

With no experience of long-distance walking, Ivan set out from Cape Reinga on 9 February 2019 with just his backpack and a new pair of walking shoes.

“I got a really rude shock on the first day – I was gasping for breath.”

But with no cellphone reception along most of 90-mile beach, Ivan had no choice but to tough it out.

“It only took three or four weeks to build up that fitness,” he says.

“Now when I’m walking, it can be tough, but I don’t think about what my legs are doing anymore.”

Ivan says his hope is to share his highs and lows along the way, walk with others, and basically allow others to follow his personal journey.

He says he will have a few days rest catching up with mates in Marlborough and Wellington before turning his sights on the longest leg yet of his journey – the east coast of the North Island.

“I’m only about two-thirds of the way through,” Ivan says.

He says there’s about 2000 kilometres to go before the finish line, back where he began at Cape Reinga.

“I’ve been helped and supported by a lot of people,” he says.

“It’s been an amazing experience.”

To support Ivan raise money for the Mental Health Foundation, donate at–s-Walk and follow him on Facebook at

A car was fished out of the Wairau River last week. Photo: Supplied.

Sinking car sparks police call out

A partially submerged car was pulled out of the Wairau River after shocked bystanders alerted police.

The blue Holden Barina was discovered in the water about 4pm on Thursday near Hillocks Road north of Spring Creek.

Police attended the scene and the car was carefully hoisted out.

A police spokeswoman says the incident was not reported as an accident.

“Typically, in instances such as this, the local council would be notified to have the vehicle removed,” she says.

Don and Maureen Helman. Photo: Matt Brown.

Recipe of thanks for paramedics

A man who collapsed at home has turned to a 58-year-old wedding gift in a bid to say thanks to the paramedics who rescued him.

Don Helman collapsed at his Blenheim home and a St John ambulance crew rushed him to Wairau Hospital.

The retired pharmacist has since made more than 2500 jars of marmalade as a way of raising funds for the St John’s team who came to his aid.

And to carry out this feat of kindness, he used a recipe book he and wife Maureen were given for their wedding more than five decades earlier.

Don says he told St John volunteers at their secondhand store in Springlands, “I could make you a jar or two.”

Ten pounds of fruit and eleven pounds of sugar goes into a batch of Don's famous marmalade. Photo: Matt Brown.
Ten pounds of fruit and eleven pounds of sugar goes into a batch of Don’s famous marmalade. Photo: Matt Brown.

“A particular morning, I walked across the kitchen and hit the floor,” he says.

“I said, send for an ambulance. They were here very quickly.”

A paramedic wired Don up to an electrocardiograph during the short ambulance trip.

“They put me on an ECG monitor, and on the way, they got something.

“The paramedic in the ambulance ran into the hospital and spoke with the house surgeon.

“When she came back, she said we think you need a pacemaker – we’re arranging for you to go to Nelson.”

Neither Don nor Maureen know who the “fantastic” paramedic was.

“She was just amazing,” Maureen says.

“She knew what was wrong with him more or less straight away.”

“They’re always there for an emergency,” Don says.

Ten pounds of fruit and eleven pounds of sugar goes into a batch – that makes about 27 jars.

Affectionately known as ‘the man’s marmalade’, the tasty spread is a favourite at the St John store.

Each batch takes around six hours to make and Don makes up to two batches a week.

He likes to have a supply ready to go when the shop sells out.

He uses lemons and oranges donated from neighbours’ trees.

“Our biggest bugbear is that the jars that we get – it’s lovely that we get the jars – but the labels are still on them.

“Before we can even start, we have to soak them and then scrape the labels off them.

That’s one thing we wish we didn’t have to do.”

The fruit is boiled first in its juice until the rind goes soft then adds the sugar and brings it up to the boil.

“It takes about an hour after that. It’s quite a long process – it takes about six hours, from start to finish.

“I had no idea how much marmalade people want, and it just grew really,” Don says.

The batch is then set aside in a back room overnight to set.

Maureen helps slice up the peel and with the testing process.

“Testing it. It’s bubble, bubble, bubble like a witch’s cauldron,” she says.

Don says he’s happy to be able to help.

“The marmalade is just repayment for what was done.”

Waka welcome the replica of the Endeavour to Meretoto. Photo: Matt Brown.

Shouldn’t a pākehā know more Māori history?

Last month, a national celebration took place – Tuia 250 – commemorating 250 years since Captain James Cook with Tahitian navigator Tupaia first came to Aotearoa. Reporter Matt Brown was lucky enough to be part of the historic event.

The event was billed as an opportunity to hold honest conversations about the past, the present and how we navigate our shared future.

But as the searing Marlborough sun turned my pasty, pākehā skin red and local iwi officially welcomed the guests with haka and speeches, I realised I wasn’t particularly well equipped for the conversation.

I don’t speak Māori.

Travelling to the remote bay in the Marlborough Sounds, children from Omaka Marae singing waiata, the excitement in the air was palpable.

And as the masts of the tall ships appeared on the horizon and dolphins leapt through the water alongside, the sun glittering on the water, I found myself reflecting on the contrast of the Māori people’s connection with the past, and my almost complete disconnect.

Now, I can’t say I’ve spent all that much time thinking about Captain Cook, but I admit I was a wee bit surprised when the Endeavour replica was given the moniker, ‘Death Ship’, in mainstream news.

My history education is sorely lacking, and in small-town, South Island, rural Blenheim – I was brought up to believe Cook was one of the last great explorers. And perhaps, despite his shortcomings, he was.

250 years ago, Captain James Cook sailed into Meretoto, or Ships Cove, to perform repairs to his ship, the Endeavour.

Cook loved the spot so much he effectively made the spot his base of operations – spending more time there than anywhere else in New Zealand.

And on the surface, that was the gist of the celebrations – 250 years ago white dudes ‘discovered’ New Zealand.

There’s so much more than that.

Prior to Tuia 250, I didn’t know who Tupaia was.

I may not have been listening in class – or maybe I was one of the rare teenagers who was correct when I said I thought school was not the be all and end all.

For those who are in my boat, or ship as it were, Tupaia is the single reason Captain Cook’s voyage was successful.

Interpreter and liaison, high priest and skilled navigator in his own right, Tupaia was able to calm waters between the English ‘goblins’ and the native Māori people and created bonds of friendship and respect.

It is little wonder that iwi lamented when, on subsequent voyages, they learned of his death.

The event was moving, the location magical – but in translation, something is always lost.

I asked Omaka Marae manager Kiley Nepia how he thought Marlborough would look in 50 years.

He told me he hoped it had “browned up” by then.

Reflecting on my cultural identity, or lack thereof, I hope he’s right.

Watching people from the various tribes of Marlborough, I was struck by how history is a living thing. To them, the wounds of the past are still raw because the past isn’t an abstract thing.

Fifty years from now, at Tuia 300, I hope not only for more cultural diversity but the casual racism endemic to the region be but a distant memory.